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Shooting live concert!

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Usul Fremen
Shooting live concert!
on Jan 2, 2008 at 12:54:58 pm

Hi everyone, not sure if this is the right stop, please redirect if needed!

I have to prepare the shooting of a live music concert for some friends. I'm into post production but not into production itself so I have a LOT of questions here! I'll be hiring almost everything so I need help to build up my shopping-cart. I'm mainly interested in cameras, tripods and camera lenses. DV quality would be ok for this, no need to go HD and audio will be recorder by sound guys and synched on post so not my problem right now.

Concert will be shot on a huge theater (30 mts wide) and I'm not yet sure were I'll be able to place cameras so I could need some nice zooming on those lenses.

I'm looking into 3 cameras for this job so, which ones would you go for and with what lenses? Any other tips are appreciated!

I've offered myself to do this after seeing the DVD from thir last concert so I have to improve on that! It was really bad so that shouldn't be complicated. The main problem was that the image looked ok only when no lights where used but being a concert there where light going on an off almost every second. It was specially bad when blue light was cast onto them.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Shooting live concert!
on Jan 3, 2008 at 6:50:01 pm

Walk without rythm, and the worm cannot find you... nor can moderators.

Your lighting problem sounds like an auto-iris /exposure problem. All cameras should be run on manual focus and manual iris for a job like that, pre-white balanced before the colored stage lighting goes on, then just leave the colors as the LD intended them. Sometimes you can get the lighting man to leave up a minimal base level of white light, enough to keep the camera shots from getting too grainy from having to boost gain. But modern cameras are much more sensitive than when I used to do this sort of thing using tube cameras and early CCD's

Whether you want to live-switch the show and just tidy up in post, or just shoot 3 cameras all iso and then replicate the live switch in post, you should probably rent the right cameras for this, and the rental shop will tell you what they have that's the best fit . Classically, you'd have two cameras right and left, plus one halfway back of the house or more, shooting coverage on a wide-shot, that one will want the longest lens and sturdiest tripod, and best low-light ability because of the distance, and the extra stop or two lost for the longer lens. A fourth cam would rove behind and onstage and in the front row. You could actually do a pretty good job with just two, if they were very coordinated and each one covered well while the other moved and got their next shot, using radio intercoms, noise-free headsets and a director watching their shots. But that's tough even for pros. More cameras = more safety, flexibility and reliability. When Idid the multicam iso thing in the field, I and my partner had a pre-decided set of rules for who would shoot what, and an agreed set of hand signals to each other for who was/wanted to go tight or wide at any moment. Takes some coordination!

Tip: shoot the rehearsal end to end, and do most of that with the cameras right onstage and close-up, particularly the lead singer and drummer. You may be able to inter-cut this later and look like you had six cameras, plus then you don't have to ruin the crowd's experience of the band during the actual show with cameramen on stage. Don't forget to get plenty of b-roll reaction shots of band members and crowd to cover edits.

You would want to run the board mix into one channel of each camcorder to help you out later. The other channel can be the onboard mic for use as a scratch track and maybe for extra crowd effects later.

Don't be sanguine about trusting the audio recording to some venue guy sight unseen, no matter how experienced he is. One reason is, the guy mixing for the house is tailoring his mix so it sounds good in the room full of noisy people with the speakers and geometry of the live space. If those same settings make a good sound for a TV recording as well, it would be a big coincidence. Just one aspect of that would be how much the drums are mic'ed, for example. You could wind up with a very thin drum section if not careful. So you need to talk these aspects over with the sound guy ahead of time, maybe cover your bets by placing an independent recorder and stereo pair somewhere on or near center stage for an alternate pickup point. Also, be sure your recordings are not too hot or too low level-wise: use matching transformers or keep everything on line level, with a pad standing by.

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Re: Shooting live concert!
on Jan 12, 2008 at 1:32:56 pm


Approaches will vary depending on what cameras your using and the lighting scenario of the event. I have produced and directed over 100 live events, mainly live music shows with extreme Intelligent light scenarios and drastic color temp and intensity changes. I know the Blue light issue your concerned with. It seems every light guy in the world is in love with their blue scenes. What I found works for me to handle going from a heavy blue scene to an extreme change to yellow or warmer light scene is to run at tungsten setting on all the cameras. Let the cameras handle it or your constantly change white balance presets.
If at all possible, meet with the house light guy and ask him to base his scenes with a light wash that won't over power his intels. If their using spots, ask if they have any light opacity flesh tone gels they can filter them with. This will keep the shots from over exposing and allow the camera to see the images that are darker in the background. As far as camera placement goes that depends on the venue and your stylistic preference. In general its cam 1 through 3
house left, center and right. If you have 4 cams and a wide angle, put the wide front and center.
It looks great and when the shots are put to screen it gives the impression of the event being really big.

I hope this was helpfull for you and best success to you!!


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Philip Howells
Re: Shooting live concert!
on Mar 28, 2008 at 11:12:14 pm

Although this sounds like a favour I guess if you're prepared to hire in gear it must be a big, paying favour. So my comments reflect the way we've shot concerts in the past. However, it depends on what sort of concerts - if they're rock or pop you'll need maybe 10 cameras and cobra to make yours look like a pro.

On the other hand we've done concerts of a four piece folk group with five cameras. I think Todd's four camera layout should be the minimum, left, right, and two co-located centre of house, one wide (big shots and security) and one with a very long say 20x or 24x lens for tight close-ups.

I'd also agree with the reply that recommended you shoot the dress rehearsal on stage, handheld and ideally with a few rows of audience. Those shots are excellent at adding mood and detail and if the group's any good they'll hold sync so you can use up to 30 sec shots.

We do the main edit in Liquid and sync up to 16 cameras in Multicam which a) gives you the speed of editing only a live mix can give plus b) the ability to change your mind!

Dont forget to get some audience shots as well.

The first reply mentioned the option of doing a live mix (just like the old days!). The only merit would be speed of production. Cost-wise the rental of a scanner van would rule it out I would have thought - plus you lose all the benefits of making things look better in post.

Finally the soundtrack MUST be recorded for the video. The best way is to split the feeds from the PA or stage mics and feed them to a separate recording/mixer for the video. This mixer must also have a feed from mics set up on any instruments that are not already mic'd up for the PA.

Hope this helps

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